Summer learning draws over 6,000

Summer Learning instructor Micaela Grenier, center, teaches her students a super hero-themed game Tuesday afternoon, July 12, 2022, at Milam Magnet Elementary School. (Eli Hartman|Odessa American)

Ector County ISD started its summer learning program June 5 prepared for about 6,000 students, but they got 500 more.

Summer learning is aimed at preventing the “summer slide” that occurs between the end of one year and the start of another.

“Students will engage in a variety of highly engaging activities that will stimulate their brain to help them avoid that summer slide,” Superintendent Scott Muri said in his media call June 7.

Muri added that there is a lot of emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics and robotics.

“Kids have some really fascinating experiences in those STEM fields with a focus on using robots and learning how to program and understand (them) and all of the communications strategies that go along with that particular piece of technology. Once again, it’s a highly engaging summer experience for kids,” Muri said.

He added that there is room for more students, so if any parents want to learn more or register their child, they can visit the ECISD website at, or stop by any of the ECISD schools to learn more.

Students have a choice during the summer. Summer learning is not required and there are other options like travel, athletic camps and Vacation Bible Schools.

“All of those are good things and important for our kids, but they need to be involved in something and so if it’s traveling with the family, or your summer church camp, or summer learning in ECISD, all of those things are great options for kids,” Muri said.

He added that summer learning helps students get ahead and that it has been highly successful.

“We see that, in fact, in the fall when we do some early assessments on children. There’s a difference between our students that are engaged during the summer and kids that are not engaged,” Muri said.

“You can see through data the learning loss that occurs with kids that do not read, kids that are not engaged, kids that perhaps remained home all summer long and really did nothing. They are losing some of what they gained during the school year. The flipside is the kids that are highly engaged — whether it’s summer learning or traveling with their family or simply reading — those kids’ brains stay active and they begin school in August right where they should be. Our own data indicates that it’s successful, so of course the attendance is overwhelming so obviously the kids like being there,” Muri said.

He added that teachers spend from August to October just catching the kids up from where they left off the prior year.

On graduation, he said a little more than 1,800 students graduated from the six high schools in ECISD this year. Of that number, 166 students not only earned a high school diploma, but an associate degree from Odessa College.

“In addition to that, we have over 600 of our students that earned some form of … career and technical education industry certification. Those are students that participated in our career and technical education pathways and before they graduated from high school, they earned an industry based certification,” Muri said.

He noted that the legislative session that recently ended paid a lot of attention to education and there were a lot of good solid bills that didn’t make it to the finish line.

Things like the basic allotment did not increase; there were no raises for teachers; the work of developing teachers from high school all the way through college, or looking at individuals with college degrees who want to enter the profession was unfunded, as was the teacher residency model.

The lack of increase in the basic allotment affects what they are able to do for students.

While the regular session has concluded, Muri said it appears Gov. Greg Abbott will be calling multiple special sessions to deal with some of those issues.

“Certainly we hope the governor will call a special session that will focus specifically and completely on public education allowing us to provide compensation for teachers; allowing us to increase the basic allotment; allowing us to develop the pipelines and funding all of those opportunities so that we can continue to serve the kids in our community and really across the state of Texas to the very best of our ability,” Muri said.